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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Comic Cuts

I'm in a rather more relaxed mood tonight than I've been for the past few weeks. Everything seems to have been going reasonably well compared to the last few months. Potentially this is the first uninterrupted week I'll have had since June. We're just about finished on the building & decorating front (a few cosmetic odds and sods are still going on and there's only one potential disaster on the horizon) although there are still boxes that need to be emptied. From being a month behind with work in August I'm down to just a few days; we shall just have to see how many days off I actually get on my planned "holiday from work" next week.

The two Trigan Empire books are now done bar one paragraph that needs a rewrite and the proofing; the introductions clocked in at around 17,000 words across the two volumes and, not for the first time, I've got a few bits left over—notes on the planet Elekton's orbit and other weird oddments. This often happens if I'm not careful. I once compared my writing with dérive, the situationist concept of wandering streets aimlessly and following certain pathways on a whim or for aesthetic reasons rather than practical. That seems to be the way I do my research, wandering down all sorts of back alleys not quite knowing where I'll end up, gathering up information that might be useful along the way and hoping that, somewhere along the line, I'll get to a point where I can see some sort of pattern emerging.

I wouldn't recommend this to anyone as a way of working. It's an incredibly slow way of doing the work but the only one I'm comfortable with when I'm writing about something I don't know too well—and I seem to have had quite a bit of that this year what with writing about Robin Hood, King Arthur, Vikings and lots of SF artists, some of who's work I was only vaguely aware of, all of which is well outside my comfort zone. I get nervous if I haven't explored all around the edges of a subject to make sure I've not missed something obvious.

Methodical and painstaking, I call it, to which most editors reply, "Yes, very good, but will you have it finished by Friday?"

Another reason I'm feeling relaxed is because I've been listening to dozens of my old LPs over the last few weeks. I've had most of them boxed up or sitting in a crate for fifteen years, only occasionally dragging one out to play on my ancient stereo. One of the reasons was that the needle needed replacing and I didn't want to bugger up my collection; the other is that I found it incredibly frustrating having to change sides every 15-20 minutes. CDs have completely spoiled my pleasure listening to vinyl.

A few months ago I solved both problems by buying myself a USB turntable and I've been recording the lot. About 140 so far and still another 60 or so to go. It's quite a mixture—lots of rock (the usual suspects), heavy metal (especially New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands as the NWoBHM was in full swing when I was 17), prog rock, space rock (tons of Hawkwind) and lots of what nowadays gets called ambient music (you wouldn't have The Orb if it wasn't for Steve Hillage).

I'm enjoying it all the more because it's something I can be doing while I'm working and there's a huge sense of achievement every time you finish a run on a particular band. When work is piling up and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight you need these little victories to keep you going.

7 comments:

Ken Davidson said...

Sorting your music collection while doing other work is the only way to go. I digitised around 200 LPs, 120 singles and 300 cassettes (the format of the devil!) over a period of about 18 months. Digitising is easy, though you have to stop doing real work to do some sound processing, and then MP3 tagging. That last bit is soul-destroying.

All done now though, 16000+ MP3 files and I'm still listening to the 'wireless' while working. Go, as they say, figure...

Mike W said...

Any chance of a few Trigan titbits to whet our appetites? Is the November/December publication date still on for both the final volumes? Are they going to appaer at the same time? Fot those who have subscribed there will only be one book to pay for as there was a double payment at the start of theseries nearly 5 years ago. Wise Old Peric must be the oldest person on Elekton by now!

Steve said...

Ken,

Chopping them up and mp3-ing them is a pain but worth it in the long run. I'm playing the tracks through small desktop speakers so a little loss of quality isn't a bit problem and I've saved the full .wav files if I ever want to drop them onto a CD.

Steve said...

Mike,

I shall see what I can do about a little preview of the Trigan books. As far as I'm aware we're on schedule to have the books finished by the end of the month. Everything I write also has to be translated into Dutch for the Dutch-language editions, so Rob and his team have that additional work to do, although the layouts are identical in both English and Dutch editions.

I was thinking the other day about how old Trigo and his family must be to have witnessed the changes they have seen -- everything from the founding of Trigan City in the first story to the space travel of later stories. Didn't come to any astonishing conclusions other than they must be "very old".

ARCHAVIST said...

Enjoy your break but don't take too long. Get back to work and compile some more of these best of books. Is it too early for sales indications of HIgh Noon yet? I really want this one to do well and see more volumes.

Michael Martin said...

Thanks for linking to the British Comics Miscellany blog, i've now belatedly added a link back!

Derek said...

Well my copies of High Noon and Rick Random arrived from Amazon on friday, excellent stuff. I got stuck into reading Rick Random yesterday, enjoying it very much.